Friday, November 30, 2012

Assessing November and Setting December Goals

    These were the NOVEMBER GOALS 
  2012 WIPs: Concentrate solely on TW's Woodland Angel,  making as much progress as possible.  Hurricane Sandy and the accompanying power outages interfered with my momentum on this project.  Losing the bulb on my OTT lamp didn't help either.  My local electrician's supply shop can't find a replacement, the on-line shop where I purxhased the lamp no longer carries the lamp which was discontinued by the manufacturer.  I have reconciled myself to the fact that I am going to have to buy a new lamp. 
   OFF-GOAL SMALLS: I completed two Stitcher's Hideaway souvenir projects.  The first was Sue Donnelly's 2012 Embellished Witch's Hat and the second was Elizabeth Design's  2007 Souvenir Needlebook.  Then I finished Mosey & Me's Book Shop and JABCo's Button Shop from the 2006 Indy Town Square series.  I also stitched Papillion Creations Moonlight Serenade, Victoria Sampler's Cardinal's Song Christmas ornament, Michael Saletta's Edwardian Elegance, Dragon Dreams' 2011 Compassion Dragon and last but not last four Christmas Cardinal ornaments by La-D-Da from the 2006 JCS issue.
   Sewing Finishes:  Get ready for Christmas.  Assemble the three Town Square SAL ornaments and the Victoria Sampler ornament.  Sew up gift totes using the appropriate finished pieces.  None.

    2010-2011 WIPs:  Embellish another area on the Encrusted Crazy Quilt Square, finish the needlebook and slip Midnight Moogies back into the rotation, even though that would put three BAPs in the rotation.
   2012 Crazy Class Project Challenge:  Continue to work on the Victoria Sampler's Mystic Smalls projects, finishing the Stitcher's Pocket and starting the fob and scissor case.  
   2012 WIPs: Finish Part II of The English Band Sampler and continue stitching TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking, finishing page 7 and starting page 4.   Stitch the last three La-D-Da Christmas Cardinal ornaments.
    Town Square SAL: stitch the Fiber Shop and the Frame Shop.  
     Sewing Finishes: Try to get all the accumulated Christmas ornaments assembled and finished.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Bunch of Small Weekend Finishes

Here is my Dragon Dreams' 2011 Compassion Dragon.  As noted in an earlier post I have tweaked this chart in order to please my three and a half year old granddaughter who thinks pink.  I changed two of the  red cotton flosses in the body of the dragon to pink and will be changing the gold horns and the maroon horns and tail "spade" to a Kreinik #4 braid in pink-gold.   As I stitched this, I was reminded that pink has never been one of the colorways I enjoyed.  But one does what one must for beloved grandchildren.  Now, I just have to find a nice fabric and some pretty trim to turn this little dragon into a glitzy little gift tote suitable for my little Princess of Pinkness.

Actually, to say I detest pink is something of an understatement.  It stems from my mother's practice of dressing me, a brunette, in pink and red and dressing my younger and blonde sister in the blues and greens I preferred.  It was a 1950s fashion dictum for children, apparently, and no matter how I pleaded, I was never allowed to dress in the wrong color.  Needless to say, once I got my first job at 16 and started buying my own clothes I never bought another pink or red item again.  I do have a few red gifts in my closet but I have never spent a penny on such items.  The closest I have come is purchasing some dusty rose or maroon [both with strong blue undertones] short sleeved sweaters.  Amazing, isn't it, how I can hold a grudge against an innocent color for more than 50 years?  Or maybe not so amazing when you consider my Irish and Sicilian heritage.

Next up is Thea Dueck [Victoria Samplers] Cardinal's Song Christmas Ornament.  Again, I used whatever stray flosses I had in my scrap bag and some more of the Meditation linen [it was a long narrow scrap]. Obviously, this will be finished as a Christmas ornament.

And finally, Michael Sayetta's Edwardian Elegance.  As with the Christmas ornament, I used the last of the Meditation linen and some Mill Hill beads, and Threadworx and Needle Necessities floss left over from other projects.    I am thinking of finishing this as a tiny pin pillow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Small Finish

I didn't have my camera handy when posting yesterday and so failed to post a photo of Papillion Creations' Moonlight Serenade complimentary chart.  Here it is done on a scrap of Meditation 28 ct linen using Needle Necessities flosses that have long since been separated from their labels: a lavendar/blue/sage overdyed cotton and a very subtle silver/grey overdyed cotton.  I'll probably stitch it up as a small pillow.  Since the fabric scrap I used was just a little narrower than  required, I substituted three beads for a motif that extended about ten threads [or five cross stitches] beyond the main square shape.  I think it looks perfectly balanced.  Before I go back and stitch the cross motif in the very center, I am going to go through my button stash to see if I have something appropriate to use instead.  Though in all other areas of my life, I hold to the "less is more" philosophy, I like to embellish my stitching.  Tastefully, of course ... nothing garish or outrageous ... but still, a little glamour.  I have a lovely floral trim that picks up the colors of the main floss that I want to use on the border between the fabric and the stitched piece so I don't want to over do the embellishment.  If I can't find a suitable button or charm, I'll probably just stitch the cross motif in the same beads I used on the border.  I finished this piece Sunday evening.    I do apologize for the purple cast of the photo: my new Brite Light lamp does not provide as daylight-like a field of illumination as my old Ott-lite.  But I hope to find a bulb for the Ott-lite tomorrow, if I have to visit every electrical supply and lighting fixture shop in the county.

Since then I have been working on Dragon Dreams 2011 Compassion Dragon which has been tweaked mightily, of course ... but more on that tomorrow when I expect to be able to post a finish photo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Necessity > Enthusiasm > Obsession > Addiction

I should be working on my BAPs, especially the TW Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.  But during the power outage caused by Sandy I got side-tracked to smalls on 28 ct linen that were easier to see when working with the light from a window on overcast days.  My stitching in the immediate aftermath of Sandy and before the lights came on again yielded two small finishes.  But I continued to stitch smalls all last week, adding three more finishes to the count.  And now, a full week after the adjustment became unnecessary, I am still in my own little wilderness of smalls.  I just keep pulling them out of my to-do binder, kitting them up with odds and ends of left-over fabric and fiber [I feel so righteously frugal!] and stitching them up.  The thing is, I don't really want to stop.  I have had enough of BAPs for the time being.  Bring on the endless smalls!  It has gotten so obsessive that I am going to have to stage a Finishing Frenzy next weekend making ornaments, gift totes and pin-pillows just to avoid drowning in all the smalls that have reached the stage of "some assembly required."

I think that as I near the end of a year devoted primarily to BAPs and complicated class projects, I am rebelling against commitment of any sort and reveling in the joys of lots and lots and lots of small finishes.  I am enjoying the novelty of a new start every three days. Since Sunday, I have finished the Midnight Serenade that I had been working on and have begun Dragon Dreams' Compassion Dragon 2011.  I will surround the finished piece with the words from the hymn of St. Francis, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."  I have adapted this dragon chart  to employ a pink colorway rather than a red one, replacing two of the reds with pink shades, making it a very pink dragon, indeed.  It will make a nice Christmas gift tote for my pink fixated granddaughter.  And I have pulled my favorite cardinal Christmas ornament out of the binder and rummaged for appropriate scraps of wine red linen and a skein or two of deep charcoal grey DMC 3799.  Even stitching these twice over, as a back and front, I have enough linen for two more ornaments.  And I have another cardinal ornament chart I'd like to try: a small suggestion of a cardinal set within a snowflake.  Then there are two more Town Square shops: The Frame Shop and the Cross Stitch Shop.  I have had to set aside the DMC Fiber Shop till later. After a closer look, I realized it is meant to be stitched over one on 40 ct and I haven't any 40 ct linen in a medium blue shade which is the background color I am using to unify this series.  I'll have to wait till I am near the end of the series and see how many others require the 40 ct linen.  So far it is just the Prison and DMC shop, but I haven't really examined all the remaining charts that carefully.

And I am still culling my binders for a few more smalls to play with for the rest of the month.  What began as a pragmatic diversion from my goal plan morphed into an enthusiastic pursuit which slyly edged its way toward obsession and now is galloping madly toward addiction!  I'll post pictures again shortly, once I have finished stitching the dragon.  It tends to look like just so many punk blobs without the backstitching.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November was supposed to be ...

a month fully devoted to The Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking.  Instead, the month was ushered in by Hurricane Sandy and power outages lasting 4 days.  Even after the power returned, matters were complicated by the blow-out of my Ott Lite bulb.  Granted I have had the lamp for nearly five years and have stitched almost daily with it.  That's a lot of hours from one bulb.  But without a proper stitching lamp cum magnifier, I have been limited to simple projects on 28ct linen.  So the first week of November was consumed by "smalls" stitching: ornaments, pin keeps and needle books.

 I ordered a Vusion Mighty Bright lamp/magnifier from 123 stitch, thinking it would be more portable for retreats and generally more convenient in case of power outages since it offers the options of using batteries or a plug in adapter.  Until, I get my Ott Light back online, the Vusion is a reasonable back-up.But still, it has a very small field of illumination and I continue to work on smalls

It pains me to have lost more than a full week of stitching on the stocking.  Still, I am can't see my way to working on it without proper lighting.  That's only asking for mistakes.  There is still so much to do that, realistically, I don't expect to have it done for this Christmas.  But maybe, just maybe, by 2013, I'll have stitched both Liam's and Piper's stockings and can give them to my grandkids at the same time.  Rocco will be just past a year old and won't really know any better ... so I can probably hold off till 2014 for his stocking without too much bad grandma karma.

In the meantime, I have had one small stitching finish:
The Elizabeth Designs Souvenir Stitcher's Hideaway Needlebook  For this piece I substituted some Crescent Colors cotton overdyes left over from some of my PS Special Edition Santa kits: Bandana for all the reds, Desert Mesquite for all the greens and Sassy Brass for all the golds.

And I am working on this WIP: Papillion Creations Moonlight Serenade complimentary chart. But I haven't decided whether I'll be finishing this as a biscornu or a small pillow.  For this piece I dug out an old skein of NeedleNecessities overdyed in shades of lavender, teal and pale sage.  I no longer have the label so I can't share the name.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A while ago I offered a giveaway

... and life got in the way of choosing winners.  But I have finally gotten around to doing so and will be e-mailing the winners to ask for mailing addresses sometime Monday.

Joyce gets JBW Designs'  Dear Santa and Jeanette Douglas Designs'  Sweet Pumpkin
Angela gets Praiseworthy Stitches'   Sassy Bat
Linda gets Rosewood Manor's  Crows' Feet Quilt BlockCross Stitch & Needlework, November 2010, Lavender Wings'  Esmeralda's Brew and Tempting Tangles Designs' Valentina, the baby chimp
Mary gets The Victoria Sampler     State Hearts: Massachusetts        
Kay The Victoria Sampler     Boo Buttons #5: Muscateer and Catpunzel.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

I tried to vote before work but busloads of senior citizens from the several senior "villages" in our area pretty much filled the parking lot and created long lines at our polling place.  When I returned after work, things were better.  Even after waiting on three different lines to sign in, to use a privacy booth and to feed my ballot into the voting machine, the whole process took a little less than thirty minutes.

You know stitching has become a full-fledged addiction when you take a small piece with you when going to vote ... just in case you should have to stand in line for more than five minutes.  Anyway, I brought the Elizabeth Design's Stitcher's Hideaway Souvenir Needle Book project with me and got this far along  ... truth be told I did stitch on it for an hour or so Monday night and another hour Tuesday morning before heading out ... but most of the evergreen strand on the back of the needle book was stitched while waiting to vote.  The Rhodes Stitch berries were done once I arrived home again.  Now all I have to do is chart my name and stitch it on the back of my needle book.  I apologize for the poorly lit photo.  No outdoor photos are possible at this hour and I haven't managed to replace my OTT Lite bulb yet and am relying on my mini Vusion stitching lamp.  Just not the same effect!

I have a Prairie Schooler chart that I will have to stitch in time for next year's Election Day.  It has four ornaments:  Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, and the donkey and the elephant done up in red-white-blue stripes.  Added to my existing patriotic ornaments, these would fill my table top ornament tree quite nicely.  It would also insert a holiday theme between Halloween and Thanksgiving, adding a bit more variety to the decor.  I could keep it up from Nov. 1 through Nov.11, covering the period that would include Election Day and Veteran's Day.  And, of course, I could use the ornaments again when I set up my usual patriotic tree from May 31st -July 4th.  One more thing to put on the list of stitching-things-to-do.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stitching During Sandy's Aftermath

Before I get to the main message of this post, I'd like to thank everyone for their kind comments on yesterday's Thanksgiving ornament post.  I think the tree could use a few more ornaments, maybe three or four more, to look properly full but what I have works well enough for now.  I am always on the look out for something new.  And I am feeling especially thankful this year, since we came through Sandy so well.

We were without power Tuesday, Wednesday and part of Thursday, so I had to rely on what light was available from windows and the backdoor when stitching.  Since I didn't have to go to work on Tuesday and Wednesday [no power at the office], those days were pretty much spent stitching and listening to an all news station on our battery powered radio.  I moved a chair and a snack table to make the most of the light from the open backdoor.  The days were still overcast of course, but such light as there was worked for simple stitching and for reading.  I set The Woodland Angel aside for a while and concentrated on smaller projects that were stitched on 28ct linens.  

The first small piece I finished was Sue Donnelly's complimentary free design, a souvenir of the Spooky Retreat 2012.  This colorful witch's hat was a fun little stitch and especially appropriate since so many of the attendees at the retreat had donned elaborately adorned witch's hats.  When I finish this as a pin pillow or pin keep, it will make a nice addition to my growing basket of smalls.

 The next piece I worked on was Mosey and Me's contribution to the 2006 Indy Town Square series, The Book Shop.  This piece called for Anchor floss of which I have very little in my stash.  So I decided to go upscale and stitch it entirely in Belle Soie on 28ct Meditation linen, a pale blue overdyed fabric.  My substitutions are as follows: Icing for #2, Old Crow for #403, Wheatgrass for #831, Cabbage Patch for #875, Collard Greens for #876, Creme de Menthe for 878, Wheatgrass for 886, Ocean Tide for #1035, Chocolat for #1050, Bahama Breeze for #9159 and Cranberry for GAST Rhubarb.  I realize my version makes for a somewhat darker shop than was charted but I always think of bookshops and libraries as having the colors of an old English gentleman's club: rich, elegant deep tones.  At least, if I owned a bookshop, that's the way I would paint it.  I particularly like the roof, made to look like an open book laid down in a spine destroying manner of which I would never be guilty ... but a clever conceit nonetheless.

I picked up the JAB Co Button Shop in the Indy 2006 series next.  I didn't order the button pack as charted since I have a fairly extensive collection of buttons, having inherited both my mother's and my grandmother's button jars.  I found replacements that suited my purposes.  And as to the fibers, I did have more than half of the recommended WDW colors in my stash and substituted near-matches from my stash of WDW and GAST for the remainder.  I changed the colors around a bit though.  The WDW Whitewash storefront is now WDW Collards to match the roof and provide better contrast for my  mother-of-pearl buttons.  The WDW Raspberry door and gutter trim are now WDW Whitewash to compensate for removing the white from the storefront.

And finally, I picked up an old Stitcher's Hideaway souvenir chart from the 2007 retreat which I am stitching as a needlebook.  There is a very nice little fern stitch in this chart that I am enjoying immensely.

And, now that the power is back.  I am ordering a new stitching lamp: a smaller, more portable lamp with the option of using batteries or an adapter for a plug-in.  This will be a better choice for retreats.  I really need to replace the bulb in my Ott light before going back to The Woodland Angel.  The bulb blew while I was at the Stitcher's Hideaway last weekend and I really can't do any work on something as complex as a TW project without optimum lighting.  An ordinary table lamp just doesn't provide the same clarity.  So, I'll be heading to the Electrical Supply Shop on Monday to scout out a new round florescent bulb for the Ott lamp.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thanksgiving Stitching

Last month, I created what for lack of a better name I shall call album posts on the themes of Autumn and Halloween.  I thought I might do another on the theme of Thanksgiving this month.

This Indian man is from a CEC Thanksgiving Circle leaflet. The charted design is actually a sort of a wreath but I isolated the elements to make ornaments for my Thanksgiving tree.

These two ornaments came from one of my go-to reference books for small motifs, Better Homes and Gardens 2001 Cross Stitch Motifs.  From alphabets to borders to flora and fauna to holiday to kiddie stuff to country artifacts and more: I can always find something in this versatile volume.  I don't know why the Pilgrim girl and boy look so glum ... the mouths are actually straight lines ... but somehow they seem to turn downward at the ends.

This is from the CEC Thanksgiving Circle leaflet as well.  I am not really happy with the somewhat clownish appearance of this Pilgrim fellow but I did want to complete the set.
This Pilgrim matron is from the same CEC leaflet as the Pilgrim gentleman, the Indian and the turkey ... but I will always associate it with Groucho Marx because of my husband.  He was coming down the stairs and just caught a glimpse of it hanging on my entry hall table top tree ... and he asked why I had a Groucho Marx ornament hanging on the Thanksgiving tree.  I guess his "out of the corner of his eye" perception interpreted the pies as eyelids, the apron as a nose and the skirt/boots as a mustache.

And the last motif from the CEC Thanksgiving Circle is this colorful little turkey ... he's a bit more impressive in person.  In the photograph his paler plumage seems to fade into the ground fabric.

This cornucopia is also from The Better Homes and Gardens 2001 Cross Stitch Motifs.  The only thing I dislike about this book is that all the charts are color-coded.  I much prefer black & white charts, finding them much easier to read.

I can't remember if this cornucopia free chart came from the Rainbow Gallery or the Kreinik site but since it calls for specialty fibers I am fairly sure it is one of those.  It was a sweet stitch.

I have a bad habit of not always making a note of the source of free charts and trusting my memory instead.  If memory serves me correctly, this chart is from The Sisterhood.  I stitched the back of the piece in reverse.

This turkey is from the same Prairie Schooler leaflet I used for my round robin ... see the post on Autumn stitches.  

Some Prairie Schooler pumpkins.

I adapted this ornament from the Homespun Elegance monthly Sheepish designs: this would have come from the chart for November's blanket

And another Prairie Schooler Pumpkin

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Aftermath of Sandy

We were among the lucky ones who rode out the storm without any serious loss.  We were without power from Monday evening through sometime Thursday.  I was at work when the power was restored so don't really know the timing.  We are still without phone and internet service ... funny how such things seem like necessities until you put them in proper perspective.  We are all safe.  We suffered no real property damage.  The yard was a mess of fallen leaves and fallen branches varying from as thick as a pencil to as thick as my arm but no damage was done.  We are so much better off than many.  My heart aches for those folks out in Breezy Point, Queens: a whole neighborhood destroyed, 100 homes burned to the ground.  I knew that area well as a child since my parents had friends who had a cabana at Breezy Point and frequently invited us to the join them at the beach.  It was a neighborhood of firemen and police officers with several generations of the same families buying homes within blocks of one another.  It was a tightly knit community and still is, with folks vowing to rebuild as soon as possible.  The Hamilton Beach, Queens neighborhood where my grandparents lived is still underwater.  The beaches in Rockaway and Riis Point that I frequented as a teenager are unrecognizable.  My husband's Manhattan office tower had three large plate glass windows blow out but no shattered glass was found on the street.  One can only assume that the heavy windows were literally lifted into the air and carried off to God knows where.

We heard from my son and daughter within a day of the heaviest hit.  My daughter was okay: her apartment building is on a hill in her Morristown neighborhood but she says that all around her is devastation, flood waters came right to the bottom of her hill.  Still, I worry about her since she is caring for her elderly beagle, whom she rescued from a roadside some 16 years ago.  The beagle, Shenny, is in the final stages of terminal kidney disease and has been brought home to die peacefully.  My daughter is a vet tech and is giving poor Shenny the canine equivalent of hospice care at home.  Shenny was probably 6 -8 years old at the time of the rescue and has had a long and very happy life with my daughter.  But I know Ange will be heart-broken when Shenny finally passes. My son didn't experience any flooding since the authorities in his New City neighborhood had the foresight to open the sluices on the dam on the lake at the foot of his street.  They had the lake bed half empty in preparation for the storm.  Commuting has been treacherous with no street lights or traffic lights for several days but those began to be restored Tuesday night into Wednesday along the major roads.  I was unable to contact my Mom for several days since her phone was out and she doesn't have a cell. and I can't help but wonder about my Aunt and Uncle and cousins on Long Island.  My very friendly local banker lost the roof to her house and was joking about how she is always admonishing her 'can-we-keep-up-with-the-Jones' kids, "Just be grateful you have a roof over your heads!"  She wonders, "Now, what am I supposed to tell them?"  That kind of humor in the face of adversity is admirable.

There are pockets of flooding around town ... after all, we are right on the Hudson River.  But even these areas are slowly draining.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Assessing October Goals and Setting November Goals

    • 2010-2011 WIPs:  Embellish another area on the Encrusted Crazy Quilt Square, finish the needlebook and slip Midnight Moogies back into the rotation, even though that would put three BAPs in the rotation.  Not a bit done on these.
    • 2012 Crazy Class Project Challenge:  Continue to work on the Victoria Sampler's Mystic Smalls projects, finishing the Stitcher's Pocket and starting the fob and scissor case.  I finished stitching the Stitcher's Pocket on 10/2 though I haven't assembled it yet.
    • 2012 WIPs: Finish Part II of The English Band Sampler and continue stitching TW's Woodland Angel Christmas Stocking, finishing page 8  and starting page 7.   I did finish Section 8 and got a good start on section 7 of The Woodland Angel but was unable to do anything on the English Band Sampler.
    • Town Square SAL: stitch the Primitives Shop and the Book Shop.  Finished The Primitives Shop 10-12-12.  I did get a start on The Book Shop, which is a little more than halfway done at this point.    It turned into my "power outage stitching" since it was relatively simple and on 32ct linen.  Easy to see by such light as was streaming in from the back door on a very ovrcast post Sandy day.  More on that in a later post.
    • Sewing Finishes: Try to get at least 2 or 3 done.   Not a one.
          Off-Goal Stitching: Purple Peacocks is stitched.

    2012 WIPs: Concentrate solely on TW's Woodland Angel,  making as much progress as possible.
    Sewing Finishes:  Get ready for Christmas.  Assemble the three Town Square SAL ornaments and the Victoria Sampler ornament.  Sew up gift totes using the appropriate finished pieces.

    At the end of November, I will try to make a reasonable assessment of my progress on the stocking to determine whether it is worth continuing the single-minded concentration on the project through December.  If I don't think there is a likelihood of finishing by Christmas, I'll put the rest of my usual rotation back in place.  I'll just have to plan on finishing Liam's stocking in early 2013 and getting Piper's done in 2013 as well.  Rocco's stocking will be the 2014 project.